Silver Voices campaign group for senior citizens in the UK has suggested that the state pension is increased to a weekly minimum of £320, equivalent to £1,280 a month, to ensure that Britons are not dependent on Pension Credit.
Director Dennis Reed said that the proposed rate would be a “realistic and sustainable” figure, which is based on half the average weekly earnings in the UK. He said that the increase would be paid for partially by the scrapping of the Pension Credit which currently tops up the finances of low-income pensioners.
A new Express.co.uk poll has found that a staggering 96 percent of readers support such reforms.
Mr Reed explained: “If political parties are serious about tackling pensioner poverty and stopping premature deaths through hypothermia and malnutrition, then they must introduce a pension which is sufficient for life’s essentials. No pensioner household, having paid their taxes and national insurance for all their working lives, should be forced to claim benefits in order to survive.
“Every older person should receive a basic income sufficient to heat their homes and feed their households, without having to apply for a top-up benefit. Lip service by politicians to the right to a dignified retirement is no longer acceptable to senior citizens, they must deliver the wherewithal.”
READ MORE: Ditch ‘flawed’ Pension Credit for £1,280 ‘living’ state pension, say campaigners
In response, Express.co.uk ran a poll from 11am on Tuesday, May 23 to 3pm on Thursday, May 25, asking readers: “Should the state pension be increased to a minimum of £320 a week?”
A total of 5,525 votes were cast with a staggering 96 percent (5,321 people) answering “yes” it should be increased. Whereas three percent (171 people) said “no” and one percent (33 people) said they did not know.
In the comments left below the accompanying article readers discussed whether the pension system should be reformed in this way.
The predominant reaction among readers was in support of the changes. Username exprssym4n1 said: “Absolutely. No civilised society pays pensioners half the living wage, the minimum wage they say you need to avoid poverty, and expects them to live on it. Saving for retirement should be a luxury top-up not an essential.”
Another, username 331 explained: “I think that I’d manage a lot better with £320 per week. I can’t claim pension credit and I worked from the age of just under 16 until I was 68. If all pensioners got the same amount and do away with Pension Credit it would be a lot fairer for pensioners who can’t claim it. I worked all my life and paid into the system for what? We only want what’s right and fair.”
And username CubaSteve added: “All pensioners should get £320 per week, even those who didn’t pay their full 30-year stamp. We all need to live.”
Meanwhile, username ValBrooker remarked: “Yep, it’s become pretty obvious over the past decade that the Government isn’t in the slightest bit interested in sorting out poverty, least of all in pensioners.”
However, some readers argued that the rate would not be sufficient, with username timeboy1 arguing: “It’s still not enough, power and food prices have already outstripped increases given and surpassed this £320 figure.”
Likewise, username THEBOSS commented: “It will still be less than the minimum wage.”
Others had reservations about increasing the rate in this way. Username countryandtown said: “This is a ridiculous idea,…if you haven’t saved for your own retirement don’t expect others to fund it, you’ll just have to keep working and earning.”
Username Grimuphere has a similar view, writing: “If everyone over pension age got the same £320 pension regardless of their contributions, why would anybody bother to work over their previous 50 years?”
And username mabel warned: “Be careful what you wish for. It will just mean that all pensioners will pay more in income tax.”